The Alternative Consumer

This blog focuses on environmental issues, and healthy lifestyle choices -- new products and service options for your self, your friends, family and home. It's all about making smart choices, and living well!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Real Raw Deal

Admittedly, I'm a foodie, ever curious about nutrition and new taste sensations and as mentioned previously, I get my hankerings for good cookies. How to appease the fix? Here's a 100% natural "collective" Organic Avenue, (located in Manhattan) where you'll find Chai Raweos...just the thought of them makes me smile.

Santa Fe Ascending Experience

Friday, Sept 30 - Monday Oct 2, 2006
Under the heading of: All Sorts of Things Cross My Path is...
2012: You Decide...An Ascension Symposium
In Santa Fe at the end of this month. All I can say is, having visited Santa Fe, it's a beautiful area. If you attend, let me know about your experience. /m

Monday, August 28, 2006

Save the Date: September 30

Don’t miss your chance to dig in and help save the planet during the 13th annual National Public Lands Day scheduled for September 30th. From coast to coast, Americans young and old will volunteer to improve the public lands that we all share and enjoy. Lend your time and energy to plant trees, remove trash and improve natural habitats in designated sites throughout the nation.

In just 13 years the volunteer base has grown from 700 to 90,000 – now that’s a grassroots effort! Find out how you can get involved at While there, learn more about Toyota’s sponsorship and the company’s “global earth charter.” /jb

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mr Pitt Goes to New Orleans

Global Green USA is sponsoring a sustainable design competition for new orleans. All of the submissions feature green building principles for affordable housing complexes that would save money for New Orleans residents by reducing energy costs.

One of the judges of the competition is none other than Brad Pitt. As you may know, Brad's very eco-design-architecture-conscious. In my book, he's on the short list of Easy On the Eyes Eco-Conscious Celebs (ie Daryl Hannah, not Ed Begley).

Those who were devastated by Katrina need so much help, I can't imagine what they're going through...have you ever "lost everything?" /m

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Angels in the Universe

My youngest sister did the most beautiful thing. She happened to spot a tee-shirt that said "organic", and it reminded her of me. So she bought it, and shipped it from her home-base in Florida to my home base in NYC. I'm wearing it now and it's sooooo comfortable...feels amazingly, deliciously soft against my skin.

No obligatory occasion -- birthday, Christmas-exchange -- just spontaneous thoughtfulness. I feel so blessed and touched by her sweetness. Namaste, Lulubelle.

Here are the folks who created this precious tee: the hang tag revealed that NoEnemyApparel is teamed up with KopaliOrganics "to improve the goods we use, the lives of the people who produce them and the planet we all share."

So treat both your body and soul to some great organic stuff.
Visit for cool new threads, & the special events they've cooked up with KopaliOrganics. Spread the Good Karma. /m

Friday, August 25, 2006

ReDefining Moment

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, you’ve heard no doubt that Pluto is out. Yes, out of the solar system, out of this world, and out of the mnemonics of millions of school children who will now have a harder time memorizing the planetary order. Will it now go like this: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the planet formerly known as Pluto? In a stellar twist of fate, in which it seems size does matter, Pluto has been redefined as a “dwarf planet” because it lives in a rather crowded cosmic neighborhood, that is, in a “sea of other objects that occupy the same region of space”. Urban dwellers beware, as you too may be at risk for redefining. Mother Earth we’re told has managed to clear out the space around her, so that her planetary status will stand. What a relief, unless of course someone wants to question the not-so-neighborly asteroids that are bouncing about way out there. The universe is topsy turvy indeed. Can realigning the stars be far behind? Catch the hotly debated progress on the story at And we’ll keep watching the skies… /jb

Heads UP - August 29 & 30

...JUPITER makes a Special Appearance at dusk (7pm) in the south/southwestern slice of the sky...might be faint, but don't miss our "LARGEST planet" this Tuesday eve.

PAGASA provides the graphic pattern...

...Pluto will appear 44 degrees above the southwestern sky at around 10:00 PM on August 30 - Wednesday -- and will gleam at magnitude +14.8. A larger telescope and a star chart will be needed to locate the Pluto, which will lie among the stars of the constellation of Serpentes, the Serpent throughout the month. Enjoy the free show, things are looking up! /m

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Celestial Musings

I'm always fascinated by the sky's visuals, day or night, and we currently seem to be experiencing a "special time."
Reprinted, courtesy of Astrodynamics.

"...The trine of Mercury to Pluto on August 24 will help to expose the deeper (Pluto) meanings (Mercury) and resolve any disputes that have arisen as the result of the Mars/Uranus conflicts described above, (see link).

Pluto wants to get to the root of the problem and effect a real solution, making this an excellent time for conflict resolution. The conjunction of Venus to Saturn on August 26 and opposition to Neptune on August 27 introduces Venus to the Saturn/Neptune dance."
Hey, anything dance-related is a good thing, right? /m

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Go On, Get Dirty

Should a cleaning product actually encourage you to get dirty? Perhaps not, but the impulse to slop up my kitchen counters has been irresistible ever since I discovered Method products which are made by two seriously earth-conscious guys in San Francisco. Bet you thought that “clean” smells like vinegar or pine or ammonia. Not so, says Method. Using naturally-derived surfactants and fragrances like mint, lavender and grapefruit, Method’s full range of products are “people-friendly,” “skin-friendly” and “lung friendly”.

And after you’re done with the mundane tasks, relax amid cleaner air freshened by freesia blossom or vanilla apple candles. Made from soy wax, these candles produce 90% less soot, so they won’t undo all the cleaning you’ve done. If that isn’t enough to get your vote, their intelligent design and quirky advertising will reel you in in no time. Check out peopleagainstdirty where you’ll find one of the most well-written, informative and convincing FAQ sections available anywhere. /jb

Boar's Head...Now with a Virus?

Just when you thought deli meat couldn't get less appetizing, along comes Uncle Sam with an ingenious way to supposedly kill possible traces of bacteria in deli meat...the worst part is, "Consumers will not be aware which meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray, Mr. Andrew Zajac (of the Office of Food Additive Safety) said. The Department of Agriculture will regulate the actual use of the product."

Wait a minute...they're not going to tell us which ready-to-eat-meat and poultry products -- including the ever-popular, hot dogs, ham and turkey -- have been sprayed with this additive/virus? We're talking about a "cocktail that contains 6 different anti-bacterial viruses"...this ruling is the first approval of viruses as a food anyone else appalled by this? Now, who's the mad cow? This is killing me...

for more of this "heady" stuff, click here.
or here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Living Proof

Maverick and eco-friendly, Choice Organic Tea founder, Blake Rankin built his family habitat which epitomizes the natural, green-approach to building -- from sustainable straw-bale construction, solar power, plank cork flooring, PVC-free underground water lines running from well to home, and blue-jean-insulated mud-room -- to kitchen tiles manufactured with recycled airplane windshields...For more on his highly principled approach to Choice Organic Teas, click here. For more on his living space, (the original article appears in April/May 2006 issue of Plenty magazine), click here. What an inspiration!

Full Metal Photos

Check out some cool images from Full Metal Photographer by clicking on our new renter's ad -- left hand column of the page...we appreciate your support!

Nurture Nature

My husband is a man of action. So when he spied a hummingbird on the patio the other day he quickly decided we should have a proper feeder. As for attracting one more species of wildlife to our door, I was a bit hesitant (we are often visited by turkeys, coyote, snakes, and even a random cow), but at least hummingbirds have the good sense to feed on nectar. Rather like the gods, no?

Our search for something unusual led us to Par-A-Sol ( which crafts possibly the most charming bird feeders I’ve ever seen. Using recycled glass, Parasol recreates classic designs inspired by 1930’s Depression glass and early 20th century perfume bottles. Our feeder now in place, we have seen at least 4 different birds that are happily humming in the garden. And we are happily watching out the window just to get a glimpse of these wonders of nature.

To learn a bit more we consulted the Hummingbird Society and found that while hummingbirds are the world’s second largest bird family, nearly 10% of them are threatened with extinction. You can lend your support at or at the American Bird Conservancy (, both of which have wonderful programs to preserve bird species and their habitats. /jb

Monday, August 21, 2006

Green from the Ground Up

A trend in architecture and building today is to take a path that has been somewhat less traveled in years gone by -- that is, a green path. There are many advantages to a green approach when building, ie: it's much better for mother Earth -- you can reduce pollution, minimize energy use, water consumption and utilize building materials that are renewable and/or materials that don't emit toxins into your air. The initial investment may prove more costly, but in the loooong run, following a green path to construction can also add up to not only a healthier lifestyle, (the best pay-back) but also more green in your pocket. You can save on heating, cooling, electricity and in the resale value of your structure. Remember, when you set out to realize your dream home/office/whatever, be very aware of exactly how much space you will actually need. Small can be so beautiful! /m

Green Building Resource Guide

Resources that Shed Light on the Highway to Green Building: 202 912 1000 Conservation International
(preserving diversity of life) 800 875 3863 Earth Share
(environmental education) 415 669 7005 Ecological Design Institute
(green architecture and building systems) 202 628 7400 Sustainable Building Industry Council
(workshops, books & organizations) 202 828 7422 U.S. Green Building Council
(Leadership in Environmental Engineering & Design building certifier) 970 963 0437 Building for Health Materials Center (environmentally safe material)
(green building design resources) 800 238 5008 Environmental Construction Outfitters Global Green USA
( 310 452 7677, CA Green Building Resource Center) Green Builder Magazine
(for architects, construction managers, etc) 541 488 0931 HumaBuilt
(wheatcore cabinets and doors; low-VOC, water-based adhesives, renewable materials) Natural Resources Defense Council
(advice and LEED certification) 800 660 7187 Radiant Panel Association
(heat contractors) 800 436 7283 Water Furnace
(geothermal water heating, cooling) 800 228 0024 GreenFiber
(recycled-paper insulation) 800 449 0644 SunScope Natural Light Systems
(tubular skylights)

Ease Your Green Conscience

So here’s a thought: it’s likely that more than 20 people have touched your produce before you get it to your table, or even to your shopping cart, for that matter. Which might be the reason why one eco-friendly mom I spoke to recently expressed her guilt over having bought conventional strawberries in the market when organics were not available. There were other choices, organic apricots for one, but the children wanted strawberries. And if you’ve ever shopped with children in tow, you may recognize the high-pitched reaction to choosing apricots over the desired strawberries. But getting back to all those icky hands all over your fruit. What’s one to do when even carefully selected organic fruits and vegetables are subject to the “drifting” of potential hazards from non-organic sources, not to mention all those hands?

One choice: the increasingly popular fruit and vegetable washes that are now widely available at groceries. Organiclean offers one solution made from “food-grade” cleansers and contains Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract and citrus extracts to help rinse away unwanted stuff. Questions can be directed to the president whose name, surprisingly, is right on the bottle. (The hot link is to HerbalHut, a discounter, and it sells there for $6.99)

Environne’s version, while not organic, is derived from coconut oils and berries and grapefruit seed extract which is often touted for its natural anti-bacterial properties.

All this got my scientific brain searching, all the way to the USDA which discourages the use of special soaps and suggests that washing with water is enough – how can this be when most agricultural pesticides are designed to stay on even in the rain? Seems the jury is still out on the benefits of natural cleansers, but we’ll stay tuned. /jb

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Organic Carry All

How we choose to live and spend our money carries a social and environmental impact.

Kasper Organics offers organic cotton, hemp and other natural products at affordable prices. This front-pocket, durable canvas bag is currently $14.95, and could be the perfect tote for your trip to the produce market, wine shop, Pilates class or beach. On their site you'll find a wide range of clothing and home-wares, or you can also link to their natural pest control and organic gardening products.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Out of the Frey

Minus the sulphites, (and hangover), sipping wine can be so much more enjoyable an experience...for this reason alone you should try fine wine from organic vines. And of course you should drink them because the farming methods are so much better for the environment. My usual choice for consistently great tasting organic Chardonnay is from Bonterra, ($14).
But I thought I'd switch it up a bit so I recently tried Frey Vineyards, which also hails from Mendocino Valley, in northern California. This 25-year old, family-owned, organic vineyard's site is filled with info about their approach to growing their grapes, especially their Biodynamic grape production. (Chardonnay, also a mere $14).
Whatever the vintner, when accompanied by some fine organic cheese and crackers, you'll sip and sup a summer afternoon snack that packs a pleasant punch without all the residue. Cheers!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Natural Building with Rammed Earth

Interested in alternative approaches to building? On Salt Spring Island in British Columbia this wkend, SIREwall is hosting a two-day course designed as in introduction to rammed earth building. Sounds intriguing, right? If you'd like to learn more, visit the pre-eminent advocate for this approach -- Stanford-educated inventor, author, teacher, and builder David Easton's site. There's a resurgence happening today, "but modern applications demand higher standards and greater care in construction than in the past," according to Easton. He offers an overview of FACTS on his site as well. Many adobe-style homes in Arizona and other desert areas have been constructed in this way.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reading and Tea Leaves

I don’t drink coffee so it’s rare that I find myself in a Starbucks -- unless of course I’m looking for a boost from a chai tea latte by Tazo who brews this yummy concoction from organically grown black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and star anise. But more importantly, on my last visit there I stumbled on Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, a national campaign to connect adults and children through the power of books.

On August 24th Jumpstart will host the largest shared reading experience ever when thousands of adults and young children will gather to read The Little Engine That Could in major public venues, including Starbucks which sponsors the event and will open many of its locations for reading groups that day. Truly a labor of love, companies like Penguin Publishing and Pearson Printing have teamed up to provide gratis the very special edition of The Little Engine That Could that shares important tips with parents for making the most of reading time with young children.

When you buy the book, available August 1st- 28th at Starbucks, 100% of the proceeds will benefit the many children who enter our schools without the skills they need to succeed. Join in the fun by learning more at Your help will protect and preserve one of our greatest natural resources…our children. /jb

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

G is for Green Gardens

"The Earth laughs in flowers." Ralph Waldo Emerson

My intensely curious son shattered one of my favorite Austrian hand-blown Easter eggs this morning. The sunny yellow one with hand-painted ladybugs. The son is 2, going on 3. (A frightful age, at least at our house). The egg was 8. But as any mother will tell you, there’s a memorable lesson in every mishap. The lesson for today? What’s a mother to do to help children respect the things around them, like fragile eggs, fragile emotions, the fragile world we live in.

As for loving the world, this summer we created a children’s garden. To help the little ones relax by digging in the dirt. To help them understand the fruits of their labors and the richness of the earth. To see the pride on their faces when the season’s first cucumber made it to the table for grandma’s birthday dinner.

Being true to our earth conscious goals, we chose only organic seeds from Seeds of Change. I only had to read the quote from Emerson on their site to be convinced I had come to the right place. The Children’s Garden Collection includes Tom Thumb Lettuce, Red Ridinghood Lettuce, and Jack-O-Lite Pumpkin to name a few.

“And how will they grow?” my daughter asked. “In Coast of Maine soils,” I replied. My latest find, these rich organic soils have impressive water retention capabilities thanks to their compost content. And I’m all for less watering. The Bar Harbor blend elicits more than beautiful blossoms. It’s named for the region in Eastern Maine that’s home to bald eagles, loons, moose and black bear. The view from the shore deserves all my support.

As for Mr. Emerson, the poet and philosopher was also a great naturalist. His 1836 work Nature is not to be missed; the stars will never look the same. Find it at

Ford's Alternative Media Drive

One of America's oldest auto manufacturers has given the green light to "blog marketing"...As the 100-year old company attempts to turn the company around, it gives bloggers a new twist...a video mini-doc is posted once-a-week, providing viewers an inside glimpse at what I call "Challenges Confronting the Ford Suits."
Visit their well-designed blog, and read about Ford's new shade of green as they hitch-up with BP, in the article from 7/26/06 "Ford and Sustainability: the Future of Corporate America."

Overall, I'm wondering if this use of blogs is a positive or negative. Is Ford finally getting in touch with consumers? Through Ford's marketing vehicle, will we consumers have the ability to influence those who are driving our economy?

Lavender is the New Green

French Lavender….ooh la la! What’s better on a summer day than the lush fragrance of lavender grown in Provence? L’Occitane en Provence just captured my senses with its Organic Lavender Shower Gel and Body Lotion. Long known for its quintessentially French essences, L’Occitane promises to use only the highest quality organic, A.O.C. and natural ingredients sourced through partnerships with local producers all over the Mediterranean region.

The company even guarantees production methods protect the environment. Lavender is grown above 800 meters, only the flower tops are used and steam distillation is used for extracting the essences. Splash some on; it’s sure to evoke images of Monet’s garden every time. Check out other organic options in L’Occitane’s Olive Harvest and Immortelle. Both essentially divine.

L’Occitane cares for its customers, too. You’ll notice small dots on many of the labels – Braille labeling allows the visually-impaired to understand what they’re buying. What’s more, L’Occitane employees created a school designed to introduce blind and visually-impaired children and adolescents to the world of perfume. C’est magnifique!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Skin Nutrients

Lather on those EFA's -- essential fatty acids, and they'll help keep your skin radiant and silky smooth. Seattle-based Spirit of Beauty combines vitamins, organic botanicals and essential oils for "treating the skin naturally." When I first heard the name, I imagined the packaging to be white and sky blue. Much to my surprise, it's black and gold! But I digress...back to those EFA's in their Intensive Healthy Aging Complex -- filled with blackberry seed oil, grapeseed oil, rose hip oil, cranberry oil and more.

No matter what brand you choose, try to look for lotions with healthy fats -- like coconut or avocado. These EFA's work by healing problems from within, rather than masking skin problems, like synthetic ingredients tend to do.

For sensitive skin types, Logona Free Body Lotion is great. It's a scent-free moisturizer that contains great essential fats for real softening. Now we know why these fats are essential. Feed your skin, inside and out, to look good and feel great.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Organics from Head to Toe

I've been using Desert Essence organic tea tree oil for years -- great as a disinfectant, even as an anti-fungal treatment on cuticles when they're hurtin'. Went to re-fill yesterday and spotted a new line from Desert Essence called Organics. It's "100% vegan and free of wheat, gluten, parabens, sodium laurel/laureth sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances and colors, silicones, EDTA, glycols and petro-based ingredients." Picked up the "Italian Red Grape Shampoo and Conditioners" and figured if I didn't like them, I'd just add them to my next red sauce. The Spicy Citrus Hand and Body Lotion looked mighty tempting, too.

Feed your Head, and Skin

Be mindful of ingredients not only in food, but also in personal care products. Did you know that lots of deodorants contain aluminum? Right, that same nasty element that has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. Might be time to try a natural deodorant. Natural deo's don't contain chemical antiperspirants to prevent sweating (yet), so you may need to reapply during the day. A brand you might like is Weleda. Either Citrus or Sage Deodorant -- it's basically an alcohol with essential oils and some herbal ingredients added to it. Alcohol or grapeseed extracts are the good guys -- they're in a lot of natural deo's and they act as natural preservatives. Natural preservative...has a nice ring to it. One more thing -- it's not cheap, but Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tiny Houses, the Next Big Thing?

Too Close for Comfort? Not so, say many a fan of Tiny House dwellings. Why pay taxes on a home when you can simply fork over a fee for a license plate? Schaefer's homes on wheels are great for those on the go, or those whose homes are Hurricane Katrina victims.

Artist and architect Jay Shaefer lives in his own custom-designed, 70-square-foot home near San Francisco. Schaefer is the owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and he sells plans for, and builds these little babies. The finished homes range from 50 square feet to 500 square feet, and they can be set on a trailer base on wheels.

The Bid Idea here is to share "common spaces" with other folks who all have access to "separate, common structures"...tiny home communities may be on the rise at a tiny development near you. Schaefer also heads up the Small House Society.

Schaefer's tiny home inspired a Gulf Coast victim, Julie Martin, to work out a licensing agreement with him to sell 3 more variations of his mini home on wheels under her new company called "Martin House-to-Go".

So before you go broke financing and furnishing that MacMansion, dig in your heels and roll into your new free!! Looks like a great way to stay debt-free and remain free-wheeling as long as you like, (or as long as you don't have a family)...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Detoxing Naturally

Our bodies do have the ability to naturally de-tox, and we know when we need to do a little cleansing. Beets offer antioxidants and they cleanse the intestines, blood and liver, which helps battle the effects of alcohol. Start roasting and fixing salads with this gorgeous, delicious veggie.

Oatmeal, peas, beans, apples, pears, strawberries all provide soluble fiber -- that's right, the kind of fiber that soaks up toxins in the intestines and then carries them out of your system. What a relief!

And some of my real faves -- asparagus, avocado, potatoes (boiled with their skin), raw spinach, okra, walnuts and chicken all contain glutathione, which aids in the removal of fat-soluble toxins. And finally, don't forget the old stand-bys: cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and broccoli which all contain glucosinolates, which aid the liver in detoxifying chemicals, drugs and pollutants.

If you're feeling sluggish, and your skin needs re-charging, you probably need to pay more attention to what you're eating. Give your bod a healthy dose of all this good food and you'll FEEL and SEE the difference within a few days. bon appetit.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sustainable Sources

Support companies that talk the talk and walk the walk. Here are a few of my faves that are endeavoring to shrink their ecological footprint: Dagoba Organic Chocolate is the first American manufacturer to produce only organic chocolate and to acquire its cacao through fair-trade co-ops under conditions that preserve the rainforest.

Nature's Path, the organic breakfast food & snack maker contributes regularly to conservationists, recycles un-usable spilled ingredients to local farmers, and powers itself partly from renewable sources. Founder Arran Stephens is working to make his company 100% waste-free by 2010 and climate neutral by 2020. Keep up the good work.

Seeds of Change cultivates and disseminates more than 600 varieties of organic vegetable, flower and herb seeds. This green-thumbed company helps gardeners preserve numerous plant varieties that are in danger of extinction.

To find out who's preserving natural resources, reducing waste, conserving energy and restoring the environment, check Co-Op America's directory of green businesses Don't you think that it's high time for all businesses to alter their practices in order to minimize their impact on our beautiful earth? There may come a time when Uncle Sam actually decides to fine companies for "foul eco-play", now that would be something!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Asian Beauty Heads West

Our skin takes a beating in summertime so maybe it's time for a little pampering. Pump up your natural glow by drinking in nutrients found in natural eastern botanicals. Bamboo has an amazing ability to carry high levels of water to the skin. It also has an equally amazing ability to dissipate the "glue" that holds on to dead skin cells. The Healing Garden Skin Organics reFine Microdermabrasion Treatment helps even out skin tone ($13.95, or at local drugstores or mass retailers)

Pond's Smooth Perfection Complexion Perfecting Moisturizer ($13 at drugstores) also contains bamboo.

Ginseng helps maintain elasticity, says Barbara Close, creator of Naturopathica skin care. It's in Naturopathica Beech Tree & Ginseng Daily Moisture Treatment, which tightens pores and firms your complexion as it hydrates. ($48;

Jason Wild Yam Hand & Body Therapy contains ginseng, aloe, licorice and yam to relieve tension as it conditions. ($9;

Try giving your skin a cultural awakening with these hot asian ingredients now available in beauty jars, and enjoy your renewed glow!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Company Gives Good Back

Feel better about the goods you buy, knowing that the company you support invests in their local community. Here are a few Do-Gooders who happen to produce products that I think you'll really like:
Newman's Own Organics -- father-daughter team Tom and Nell donate ALL profits to charity. Sales of produce, snacks, coffee and pet foods benefit the environment, sustainable agriculture and animal services. Now that's a family with a big heart.

Another dynamic duo, Ben & Jerry makes annual seven-figure donations to the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, which offers grants to socially and environmentally minded groups. In the company's home state of Vermont, employee-led Community Action Teams sprinkle funds to charities. And the ice cream (I know, icing) on the cake is...their PartnerShop Program invites community nonprofit groups to own & operate scoop shops.

Tom's of Maine has initiated Dental Health for All, which underwrites community dental clinics, and was among the first employers to institute a worker volunteer program.

Timberland, the eco-conscious footwear and apparel maker's Path of Service program offers employees 40 hours of annual paid leave time to do volunteer work.

These are just a few of the many companies who actively "give back." To discover business-linked nonprofit groups, try Feel good about the purchases you make by supporting the Do-Gooders and Give-Backers.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Top Shelf Stuff

One of the latest superfoods to hit the scene is the acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry. Direct from the Brazilian Amazon, and now appearing at juice bars and health food stores near you...acai's rich in anthocyanins and other anti-oxidants and contains a bit of omega-6 fatty acids. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., a well-known name in skincare, pronounces that "it contains 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine, plus fiber, essential fatty acids and amino acids."

I had to try it, and agree with those who proclaim that it tastes like "berry, with a hint of chocolate"...this rainforest fruit was berry good. A brand of fruit juice you might want to swig is Bossa Nova. For more great photos and much more nutritional info about this nutty fruit, click here.

Building Block to Health

Make sure you're getting enough Vitamin B12. It's important 'cause it's used in making DNA, the building block of genes, and in maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells. Early signs of deficiency include fatigue and dizziness but over time, the consequences can be more serious...lack of B12 can cause nerve damage, severe anemia and even dementia...and sometimes it's a hidden cause of depression, and heart disease.

The good news is, you can't get enough of a good thing...Our bodies effectively store the vitamin for a couple of years, and it appears that you can't get too much B12. How much you should take, depends on how efficient your body is at absorbing it -- the current recommended daily allowance is anywhere from 2.4 to 6 micrograms. B12 is bound to protein, so foods like beef liver, clams, lobster, tuna, salmon, wheat bran flakes, nutritional yeast flakes and cottage cheese are some sources. If your diet is vegan, popping a multi might be a good idea.

Alternative Prescription for Health Care

Smart ideas are coming together in the New Hampshire area, and I'm hoping it spreads throughout the country/world.

Charles Brackett, M.D., a noted physician based in Lebanon, New Hampshire prescribes "relatively modest weight loss & and increase in exercise -- 30 minutes of brisk walking a day -- has health benefits equal to or superior to a pill or a procedure". Folks are coming into his office for a checkup and often-times receiving a low-tech prescription for exercise and a map of local walking/biking trails. Kinda cool to imagine the country doc telling you, the patient, to "take a hike."

Doc Brackett coorinates the "Trails for Life" program with the Upper Valley Trails Alliance (Vermont/New Hampshire area) whose mission is to help area residents become more active. It's funded in part by a grant from Active Living by Design.

UVTA also sponsors annual "Bike/Walk to Work" Days and a "Passport to Winter Fun" event to get families onto skis and skates, and out of hibernation in the winter. One of their recent achievements is the Lake Morey Ice Trail, a two-mile, groomed ice path to accomodate skating, the winter's equivalent to walking and hiking. This beautiful lake trail happens to be the country's longest, recreational ice trail.

Just the thought of it sends a small chill, as I hike cross-town sweating my way through NYC concrete on heat-stroke-inducing, sweet summer days. Time to hit the trail...